By Bill Charles
The solitary bugler stands apart, afar, an introspective harbinger of grief.
A presence hid from eyes but not from ears, whose notes bespeak a universal fate.
The straining eyes seek out the silhouette; the ears seek out the sounds o’er sobs and groans—
The eyes oft times rewarded with a glimpse, the ears with distant melancholy tones.
It seems until that trumpet of despair is sounded that the soul cannot be gone,
But as the natural melody dies away, all there concede: reality has won.
Another soul has left this vale of tears to music sounded in a major key,
A corpse to sleep the sleep of sleeps for now, in patient death to sleep until the day
When yet another trumpeter shall come to undo deeds of buglers of the past,
Confound our worldly wisdom right and left,
And summon last and first and first and last.
(Adapted in an effort to better reflect the inclusive sensibilities of our modern era 2021).
A Note from the Poet: “Taps” was written in 1972 based on my experiences of playing for military funerals while a member of the 60th Army Band, Ft. Polk, Louisiana. I often played from a position that was “semi-hid.” I would be off to the side, often near a tree.